Monday, January 30, 2006

White Cotton Nightgown

My little Baby...I spend every day squeezing, hugging, nibbling and kissing her adorable little person. With each passing second, she gets more and more irrisistable. She does these things that force me scoop her up and squish her. I just can't help myself! It should be against the law to be that cute.

Tonight I gave all the kids baths before bedtime. Her and Sister were first, and I put them in together to save time. Afterwards I dried her off and gave her a mini massage with baby oil, which gave me the opportunity for some prime squishing. She loves having her feet rubbed. And they are such beautiful feet...long and narrow with long, elegant toes. Like a ballerina. Then I dressed her in one of Sister's hand-me-down night gowns. I found this gown at a garage sale when Sister was a baby. It is white cotton, sprinkled with tiny pink and blue flowers and a dainty ruffle along the bottom and around the neck. It must be twenty years old. The lady I got it from was finally selling her daughter's baby clothes, who had grown into a teenager. She explained to me how sweet her baby looked in it and that she took special care of it, only washing it in Dreft. She tearfully asked me to take good care of it and enjoy it as much as she did. And I have. Tonight was Baby's first time to wear it. Her pink face shone like an angel with that fresh look children have after their bath. Her dark hair tried to make soft little curls as it only does when it's damp. Her eyes sparkled and crinkled with laughter and mischief. Oh, she takes my breath away. Someday I will have to part with the nightgown, just as the mother before me did, and I will smile at this memory, and maybe even cry. But I will wash it in Dreft, fold it gently, and put it away in a special place. And hopefully I will see my granddaughters wear it with the same sparkle.

Operation Smile

Tonight I saw something on TV that moved me beyond words. At first I thought it was another reality show. But it turned out to be a commercial program for an organization called Operation Smile. This is a group of plastic surgeons and their medical teams who travel the world repairing cleft lips and cleft pallets on children in countries where they have no hope of getting this kind of medical attention, which in America, is commonplace. These children are ostricized. Some aren't allowed to leave their homes without a bag on their head. Many die from malnutrition because they have trouble eating and drinking.

The first story I saw was about a nine-year-old Vietnamese boy. He was called Sut, which means "hairlip", since the day he was born. He started school at five, but ran away on the first day because of all the ridicule he faced, and he never went back. He could hardly eat or drink. He was chosen to have the surgery, which only takes about forty-five minutes. When his mother came in afterwards and saw the incredible transformation, she held him and wept. From that day on he was called by his given name, Tahn, which means "blue sky". Story after story, picture after picture of these sweet little children and their helpless families who felt like they'd been handed a new life. Today I start saving to buy a child a surgery.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Early Morning (Am I Stupid Or What?!)

Well, it's 3 a.m. and I am awake. I took some 24-hour allergy medicine night before last and it has really messed me up. I am a walking zombie when I need to be awake and alert and my mind is racing when I need to be sleeping. However, it has paid off for me in some ways. At 5 a.m. yesterday morning hubby's alarm woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep, so I just got up. I had some nice quiet time with my friend, Mr. Coffee and decided to do some things around the house. By the time we started school at 9:00, I had unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, cleaned the bathroom, run the vacuum, made beds, washed, folded and put away (there's the didn't stay in the laundry basket) three loads of laundry, and had everything picked up. The house was sparkling! But I paid for it in the end. I put the kids to bed last night and was asleep on the couch by 9:00. I have a vague recollection of my husband waking me up and sending me to bed because I couldn't hardly stand up and walk. Sister woke me up at 2:30 this morning with a bad dream. Something about a car flipping over...thanks to my hubby for letting the kids see Batman Begins before bedtime. When I went back to bed I couldn't slow my brain down to get back to sleep. So here I am, blogging, hoping the release of my thoughts will help me unwind.

We are on chapter sixteen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (seventeen chapters in the book). Brother is chomping at the bit to finish. Yesterday we read the chapter where the stone table is broken and Aslan is resurrected (for any of you who don't know the story, sorry for ruining it). Surprisingly, Sister is getting into it, too. She has amazing questions. She doesn't understand why Aslan let the witch kill him. And for my kids, I don't think they understand the permanence of death. These are the moments I cherish as a parent. I love it that they are getting into the story and using their little imaginations to play the movie in their minds. And I'm the one who gets to explain it and expound on a love so amazing it would give it's own life. This is what it's all about. I am so very thankful I get to do what I do.

I've been noticing a change in myself. I have been praying for wisdom and patience with my family. And it's not just my kids, but my husband, too. I have asked God to show me the areas in their lives I can minister to. For a while I've been making myself into a martyr of sorts. (I can hear my husband saying something like, "NO! You?!" Imagine that said in a very sarcastic tone.) Woe is me. Look at all I have pressing on me. Too much work and not enough time. Don't ask anything of me. Don't look to me to meet a need in your life because my needs aren't being met either. Pretty sad, huh? These are the things I've been feeling in my heart of hearts. It's no way to live, and certainly no way to live missionally. I am disgusted by the self-centeredness that lives in me, but at the same time I have to make amends with that and realize I am way around it. I can't make it go away. This is where I can only depend on God to work through me and make something useful of this messed up soul. He is helping me see the little things I could be doing for my family that I have neglected, for various, selfish reasons. Is it wrong for my husband to want the house to be orderly? For a while, I have thought it was. I was resentful of that. Please, understand that my husband didn't come home and rant and rave about what a slob I am. But I could see that it caused him some stress. And instead of seeing it for what it was, I took it personally. But the truth is, he doesn't function well in chaos. So, I am making an effort to better organize my time and train my children so things don't get out of control. When he came home the other night and said the kitchen looked "phenomenal", I could tell it meant something to him. Funny how something like that can affect a person. It's taking the time to play a game with Brother, even when I really don't want to. It's remembering to stop read a book to Baby when I have a million other things I could be doing. It's sitting on Sister's bed and talking to her about her day at bedtime when American Idol is on TV. Don't get me's not about doing everything and doing it perfectly. It's about making the effort to do the important things well. And I don't have it all together. But I'm open. And the amazing thing about it, through it all, God is giving me wisdom and patience. I enjoy my days so much more. Imagine that.

Oh my gosh, I am going to be so tired today.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Brain Fog

I have so much to blog about, but I am on allergy medicine and feeling really woozy and weird. Even more than usual. So I am posting this lovely piece of art my son created today. It is a dog, with a lovely blue background, and the brown spots at the bottom are dog poop. Eat your heart out, Picasso.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

We went grocery shopping today. As we're pulling into the parking lot of the store, Sister makes an observation.
Sister: "Mommy, our car isn't nice and shiny like those cars. Our car is dirty. Ewwww."
Me (chuckling): "You're right. We need to wash ours, huh?"
Sister: "I'd like a sparkly, red car!"
Brother: "How about a sparkly, red vulva?"
Me (in my head): "WHAT DID YOU SAY????!!!!!!" (out loud to brother, in a calm and cool fashion) "What was that, dear?"
Brother: "A vulva, like her Barbie vulva."
Me (sighing): "Oh, you mean a Volvo."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Finding Community

I've never known anything like it before. I've spent my life in church, and I have never been a part of something like this. See, there's this group of people that meets every week and their focus isn't on bettering themselves for the sake of feeling more spiritual. I don't even want to call it church, because that isn't what it feels like. Or what I am used to it feeling like. Each week I am challenged, but not to examine my life with a microscope and try to fix every single flaw. Instead I am thinking of how God can use my life, flawed as it may be, to better someone else's life. And I love that line of thinking. But it doesn't stop there. There is a level of comfort I feel with these people I have never experienced with church people. Oh, I've made plenty of friends in other churches. In the last church we were a part of I had made some friends I considered to be very close, and leaving that was a struggle. But even in those relationships, there was not a lot of honesty or unconditional love. People talked about each other all the time and I always wondered what they said about me when I wasn't around. Sometimes I left them feeling inadequate and second rate. But not here. I always come away glad to have been there, and anticipating the next time we are together. These people love me and my family. They know I am not perfect and they don't care, because they know they aren't perfect either. They correct my children, they help chase them...and not because they think they are brats or I am a bad mother, but because they want to help. Because they genuinely care. The only other people I know who do these things for me are family. Family. And I love them as though they were.

For anyone out there who has been hurt by church, unconditional love within a community of believers can be found. What a truly remarkable thing when people take off the masks, revealing the beautiful brokeness within, giving way to the heart of God.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Can You Say "AWWWW"?

Archealogical Find

Today I was in a tear around the house. I borrowed a book from a friend called "Decorating With What You Have". And of course, upon reading it, decided everything in my living room was completely wrong and went straight to work trying to correct it. This entailed moving furniture. Mainly the armoire that holds the computer. Now, I occasionally move lighter things to clean under them, like the couch and loveseat. But the armoire is heavy, and I haven't cleaned under it since...well, since we got it. I was prepared to find all kinds of goodies underneath, and I wasn't disappointed. Along with many large dust bunnies I found two jumbo shooter marbles, a bouncy ball, a pony tail holder, a Tupperware lid, Brother's superhero wallet, two cherries from the Hi Ho Cherry-O game, and of course, many Cheerios. But there was one dust bunny that looked a little odd. It was shadowed by the armoire, so I couldn't really get a good look at it. I pulled the armoire away from the wall further and bent over for a closer look. My skin crawled. It wasn't a dust bunny. It was the skeleton of a mouse with a tiny bit of fur still attached. My guess is the cat injured it and it crawled under there and died who knows when. I am still trying to hold my dinner down.

Gives a whole new meaning to "Decorating With What You Have".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How to Know It's Time to Clean House

  • A pungent, unexplainable odor greets you when you walk in the door.
  • There are sippy cups in the sink containing what appears to be cottage cheese.
  • You find a laundry basket containing dirty clothes you thought were lost, which explains the phenomena of the disappearing washcloths.
  • Your baby's knees are brown from crawling on the floor.
  • You stick to the floor when you walk on it.
  • You are unloading the dishwasher, but can't find a clean surface to put a clean dish on.
  • No silverware in the silverware drawer.
  • One word: Commando.
  • The cat wants to go live with the neighbors...and they have dogs.
  • You need orange cones and flashing lights around the pile of laundry in the hall so people can walk through without hurting themselves.
  • You find leftovers from Christmas in the fridge...and it's mid January.
  • Your six-year-old says, "Mom, what's that brown stuff on the stove?"
  • You search the yellow pages for the nearest truckstop so you can use a bathroom cleaner than your own.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


"Put some socks on your feet before you catch a cold!" My mother probably said that to me every day of my life. I was a barefoot kind of girl. I stepped on bees, rusty nails, sparklers and cut my foot open wading in the creek. And even if my feet felt like blocks of ice, I would not put socks on while I was in the house. I remember my mother always being up before us kids, drinking coffee in her robe and slippers. Probably gathering her thoughts for the busy day ahead. In other words, enjoying a few moments of quiet before the circus began. You wouldn't catch her barefoot in the house. She was always busy, and it showed. Our house was always clean and there was always a hot meal, at least twice a day. I never ran out of clean underwear or slept on dirty sheets. We didn't eat fast food or frozen foods. And she did all this while taking care of four kids. She was the ultimate Super Mom. I, on the other hand, am never awake before my children. They have learned how to make their own breakfast, which is usually peanut butter or cold cereal. My house is never completely clean. Most times it is downright disasterous. Brother has actually gone commando at times because I didn't get the laundry done. And hot meals vs. cold/easy food is about half and half around here. There are times I wish I could be more like her. And I often wonder if I learned anything from her. But the truth is, my chidren's lives are worlds apart from my life as a child. I went to school during the day, as did my sisters and brother, so Mom had most of the day to do what needed to be done at home. And when I was home, I was never in the house. I was outside all the time and had to be dragged in at dinnertime. Mom didn't have to worry about me being outside without supervision, running all over the neighborhood. I wasn't underfoot. My children have school here at home, and I would never let them run all over the neighborhood without me. It is a full time job...and then some.

Whenever my mom comes to my house, she comments on how busy I am. And I remind her that she had four kids...I only have three. She must have been pretty busy, too. And she says, "I don't remember being that busy!" Well, if I think about it, she wasn't. So, I cut myself some slack, and try to remember that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I learned some wonderful things from my mother. This morning, I put my slippers on when I got out of bed. And you know what? I liked it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Moments That Brought Me Joy Today

  • Cooking with my kids. It's true! We cooked together and I enjoyed it!
  • Finding my long lost Kelly Clarkson CD. Now I can pretend to be her while I load the dishwasher.
  • Watching my children dance. Sister is very serious, pirouette-ing and graceful. Brother is moshing, flailing around like he's having an epileptic seizure. And Baby walks around in dizzy circles, giggling and falling down.
  • Coffee, as always.
  • Reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Brother. We read three chapters today. He didn't want to stop!
  • The chicken noodle soup the kids and I made for dinner. Not from a can. And boy, was it yummy.
  • Finding out American Idol starts Tuesday.
  • Talking about Christ with Brother. He was playing with some strips of paper and said, "Look, Mom! I made a cross." Then he began to make up a song, singing "Jesus, come down from the cross..." I mentioned to him that Jesus could have come down from the cross if He wanted to. This piqued his curiosity. "So, why didn't he?" he asked. "Because He loved us - He loved you- too much." And that was it. He thought about it for a moment and went back to playing with his little pieces of paper. It wasn't a deep theological discussion, but just a small moment I was able to share with him. It was incredibly special and beautiful.

These little things made me so happy to be here, in my tiny little home, today, with Brother, Sister and Baby. I don't care if I am broke for the rest of my life. It's a small price to pay for the best job in the world.

Body Found In Young Girl's Room

SISTER'S ROOM (AP) - A man's nude, decapitated body was found late Wednesday morning in a child's bedroom near an empty Cinderella carriage. Officials made the gruesome discovery after Cinderella made a distressed call to police. She was about to enter her carriage and go to the ball when she noticed the carriage door was ajar. That was when she found the body. She declined further comment. Though the head has yet to be recovered, police believe the man to be Alan. Alan's longtime girlfriend/wife, Barbie, and the Fairy Tale Prince are current suspects in the murder. Barbie and Alan started having problems last month, when the Fairy Tale Prince moved to the area. It is reported Barbie began an affair with the prince. According to eyewitnesses, the two have been seen together at various events. The prince's crown was recovered from the scene. All attempts to locate the two have been unsuccessful.

Police are investigating leads to their whereabouts. The Prince is dressed in a light blue dress coat with gold brocade, gold knickers and knee high boots. He has sandy blonde hair, blue eyes and dazzlingly white teeth. Barbie has waist length platinum blonde hair, turqouise eyes and a deep, dark California tan. She is wearing a white polka dot top, pink skirt and red Baywatch jacket. They were last seen in a late model, sky blue Volvo with vanity plates reading "Barbie". Please contact police if you have any information relating to this case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Of Flying Horses and Ballerinas

Yikes! Sister is four today!! Four years ago today I was in the hospital with a pudgy, cranky, red-faced newborn, begging the nurses to keep her in the nursery for just a few minutes so I could get some sleep. She cried the entire time we were in the hospital. On the second night there the nurses brought her to me after an hour an a half of trying to make her happy. She was screaming when they brought her in. I sat up sleepily and said, "Hi, Sweetheart." She immediately stopped crying and turned my direction. The nurse said, "Wow! She knows her mommy." And that was the moment my heart soared and her little soul clicked with mine...I had a daughter. It's been sunny ever since.

Sister was an angel baby. Her first night home, she slept six hours. That was the shortest she ever slept at night. At six weeks she slept ten. And she was so easy. I laid her down with her little eyes open and she went right to sleep without rocking or coaxing of any any kind. She was happy and sweet and absolutely adorable. I got to buy pink and put her in bows. It was a dream come true for me. At four, she is still all those things...and much, much more. She is independant and stubborn. She is creative and imaginative. She is messy and helpful. My little ballerina with her head in the clouds and her heart on her sleeve. There are days the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with having a girl sends me over the edge. Sometimes I just ask her "Why are you crying???!!!" But for every moment of frustration, there are hundreds of smiles. One day my husband was off to a CPR class. As he was preparing to leave, she asked where he was going. He responded by saying, "I'm going to learn to save peoples' lives." Sister was fascinated. She said, "Wow! You're going to be like Spider-Man!"

Baby girl, you are a JOY. I thank God every day for giving you to us. I look forward to the years to come and being a part of your magical, little world. My daily daisy, my little princess, my beautiful girl.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Daring To Be Not-So-Different

I suffer from a serious is called Supermom Syndrome. There are times I think I have beat it, but then I have a relapse. I have a need within me to do everything and do it perfectly. Even before I became a mom, Supermom was being hatched inside me. I would kill myself to make sure people had a certain image of me. You know..."keeping up appearances". I didn't want anyone to know my struggles. I wouldn't let anyone see me without makeup. My house, though not neat on a regular basis, would have to look like a magazine cover before anyone could dare set foot in it. I've come a long way in that area, but have found myself wanting to give in to the perfection monster this week. Sister's birthday party is the perfect example. I have all these wonderful ideas and plans, which realistically, are too much. And I can't stop my life to pull off a perfect party, no matter how much I want to. So, I had to ask myself what was most important about Sister's birthday and what purpose does this party really serve? I'll be brutally honest. As sick as it sounds, I wanted to put on the perfect party for me. Not for her. Yes, I want her to feel special and have fun, but will she have less fun if my kitchen is a mess and we have cheese and crackers instead of fancy tea sandwiches? I wanted it to be beautiful and wonderful so people would think the same of me..."Wow! Look how great Supermom is! She's incredible!" Blech. It's disgusting.

Last night I listened to some friends speak about their lives as missionaries in China. They left everything they had for one other people could have hope. This is mind blowing to me. There was a comment made that we are all called to be missionaries, whether that is in another country or within our home. You don't have to be a spiritual giant to be used by God. It caused me to see my calling in a new perspective. The world doesn't need another perfect person. People aren't looking for another expectation to live up to. No one wants to see me as Supermom. I have lived most of my Christian life thinking I needed to set myself apart from the world. People should look at my life and see that I am different, right? But I think that's backwards. People need to see that I am not different. They need to see that I am, in fact, broken...just like them. And it doesn't change a thing about God's love for me.

The party will be lovely. Sister will have fun. But it won't be everything I had in mind, and I think that's a good thing. It is her day to feel special and loved, but to also learn how to love others, and in doing that, we love God.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known As Me

Sister will be 4 next week, and we are preparing a royal tea party for her and six of her little friends. This is her first "friend party" and I have to say, I am very excited. I dug out a silver tea service I pieced together from various garage sales and some pretty silver trays. It is all old and mismatched and very tarnished. But once I polished it, is seemed to sparkle in honor of the princess. The silver isn't the only thing I found buried in a box. I also found something else I used to love, something else that used to shine. I found the artist within. I had an idea for a backdrop to take all the little party-goers pictures in front of, so I stole Brother and Sister's brand new box of colored pencils and let the artist out to breathe. It had been a really long time since I had sat down to draw something...I mean, really create something. I wasn't sure I could do it anymore. But once I got rolling, I was lost in it. It was good paper, with a rough texture, and the colors came together to create something magical. Cinderella's castle came to life before my eyes. I remembered how much I love creating beautiful things. It is not yet complete, and it will take me several more hours, but I am enjoying every stolen moment.

There was a time I knew this artist well. It's been good to visit with her again.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

51 hours, 45 minutes to go until Girls' Night Out.

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Funny, If Not Slightly Disturbing Things Sister Said Today

1. After Baby took apart one of Sister's puzzles: "Cookie (our cat), scratch my baby sister."
2. While we were playing tea party: "Mommy, would you like some frogs and blood tea?"
3. Talking about her friend's birthday party, which comes before her own: "Jesus says we should have my birthday party first, because it is nice to let others go first."
4. "I'm a murder-maid." I believe she meant to say least I hope that's what she meant.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

In the Mood for Chocolate?

I tried these at a Christmas party and almost went into a blissful chocolate coma. The stick...uh, I mean, lady who made them commented that they were so rich you could only eat one or two, to which I replied, "Wanna bet?" Be warned, they are soooooooooo good.

Oreo Balls

1 pkg. Oreo cookies (crushed)
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
chocolate almond bark
white almond bark

Mix together cookies and cream cheese with mixer. Chill for one hour. Roll into walnut sized balls and dip into melted chocolate. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drizzle with melted white chocolate. Let stand until no longer sticky to the touch.